Three Puzzles About Crime, Punishment, and The Death of the American Jury

Albert W. Dzur

in Punishment, Participatory Democracy, and the Jury

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199874095
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199980024 | DOI:

Series: Studies in Penal Theory and Philosophy

Three Puzzles About Crime, Punishment, and The Death of the American Jury

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Three puzzles serve as entry points for readers into the central argument of the book—that something like the jury is needed to re-couple citizens to criminal justice institutions to achieve greater awareness about punishment and responsibility for it. The first puzzle is the contemporary avoidance of the public world, even as many people embrace no less demanding virtual worlds. Formal jury duty is avoided, yet the virtual jury duty of solving fictional crimes published in best-selling novels and broadcast every evening holds endless appeal. The second puzzle is the decline of the American jury, while jury-like experiments inside and outside the courts are on the rise. Restorative justice programs stress informal dialogue and rely on nonprofessional community volunteers; citizens’ juries and deliberative polls are touted as ways to reconnect citizens to government and solve difficult policy issues. How suspicion of state coercion among both progressives and conservatives manages to coexist with America’s current status as the world champion of incarceration is the third puzzle. These puzzles invite the reader to consider the intertwined nature of criminal justice and political theory and to wonder about the underutilized civic capacity of a democracy to achieve moderate, humane punishment.

Keywords: citizens’; jury; criminal justice; deliberative polls; democracy; incarceration; political theory; punishment; responsibility; virtual worlds

Chapter.  7960 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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